And so, the query arises, can you take a joke too far? If so, when has it happened, how do we know it, and why should we care?
“I don’t think its possible to go too far when you have an intelligent humorist at the helm,” says comedienne Carla Collins, who has been called Canada’s answer to Tina Fey. From her outsider vantage point, she notes that the US is a nation “based on rebels, and you will get mixed reactions no matter what or when you rebel.”
She calls Colbert’s testimony “the boldest move going in, because he had to know it was going to go over like Mothers Day at the orphanage no matter how brilliant he was.” She calls it a “brilliant way to break up the stodgy, ossified Congress.”
It is possible to undermine a personal “narrative,” by so turning off your audience that any larger message gets lost, says Amber Day, author of the upcoming "Satire and Dissent.” But in the case of Colbert, she says, if you realize that he understands his medium, then his motives and methods make sense.
“His real audience is not actually the politicians at that hearing,” she says, but rather the viral viewership that will follow the event on the Web.